MCC – UTMB

I had put in for OCC (56km) in Decemeber again as I loved it in 2018 however I was refused in the ballot this year. When I was refused an email came out about a month later to say that MCC (40km) had spaces and it was a first come first serve, I thought when else would I get to do MCC? It’s the locals race so if you have a French postcode you can enter it. I managed to secure a spot and the race was on!

On Sunday 25th August we arrived back in Chamonix for our 4th year in a row. I had booked for a 2pm till 4pm registration slot. Thinking registration would be busy and that the queue would take forever we went along early, it was dead compared to previous years. Probably cause it was only MCC and PTL people registering.

I headed in to the MCC queue and collected my list of mandatory kit that I had to get out for checking. There was a lot on there this year.

Off I went round to get my bib number and my wrist band. All of this was done and dusted in about 20 to 30 minutes. Just after I left registration I received a text saying that 2ltrs of water would be required as the route is exposed to the sun and that it would be 29 degrees.

We headed back to our hotel to drop off my stuff. The hotel was right next to the finish. I had booked us in here as the chalet we were going to stay in with friends wasn’t ready till Monday afternoon, it was pretty basic but did the job for the night.

Race start was on Monday 26th August at 10am in Martigny-Combe.

So I got up at 6:30am and headed for the 8am bus as it was an hours journey to the start from Chamonix. Waved Ian off and told him I was scared as I usually do.

Finally our bus arrived in Martigny-Combe and I headed to the toilet queue before everyome else arrived. I noticed people heading into the sports centre there so I followed to be nosey. It was nice and warm inside and they were serving tea and coffee with some fruit bread slices. I had a nice cup of tea and some bread and headed off to join the toilet queue again, always gotta make sure!

Walking out of the centre I bumped into Giles, we are instagram friends and hes also a friend of a friend who done PTL last year.

I nervously headed down to the start.

I went into the start pen and bumped into Krysia who I was tagged in a post on Instagram with – small world!! We chatted to each other which was good for calming the nerves. Before we knew it we were clapping (awkwardly) and doing a Mexican wave then it was time to go.

Krysia was off in a flash and before we knew it was up hill on the road for a good 3 to 4km before hitting some grass. Lots of switch backs later we were on a trail and in the first bottleneck. It felt like a lifetime waiting to get through but it was probably about 3 minutes. We were waiting and heard all this shouting, it was a group of peope which were pulling a wheelchair. We cleared the way and let them through while all cheering.

On the way up to Col de la Forclaz it was all up hill. It was getting warm and I remember texting Ian 6km in saying I couldn’t do it cause it was so hot and I was getting frustrated cause all I had done was hike, not even a fast hike.

The first checkpoint was 8km up, the checkpoint food and drink was good. I filled my bottle and got a couple of cups of coke and some slices of watermelon.

In my bottles I had some SIS electrolytes cas I made the mistake last during OCC not having any and paying the price later with stomach cramps.

Leaving the checkpoint I knew there was a futher 9km up to Col de Balme which was the highest point in the race at 2300 meters so long way to go. Leaving Col de la Forclaz we ran along some of the TMB and then down to a bridge over the river leading us onto some switch backs. Some of this part was in the shade so it made it a little easier here, as soon as we got out of the shade it was absolutely roasting, I stopped for a rest a bunch of times just to catch my breath and take a gel – SIS raspberry electrolyte (yuck). Pottered my way up again, I changed my watch from seeing distance to elevation so I knew when I was getting closer to the top. I stopped again in the shade with many other people. A French woman stopped and said “come on Victoria, let’s keep going” it was really nice. I followed her footsteps up the hill, it was slow but it helped a lot. The woman stopped and told me to carry on, I did as the pace was good for me and I felt rested again.

There was a girl sat on the ground, who got up as I approached her. There was signs here saying that poles were not to be used as there was a chain attached to the wall for holding on to. The sign also said no overtaking and there was a marshal waiting at the top.

I followed the girl in front and we made it to the top of this section, the girl stopped dead and started throwing up. Which then made me feel sick, I asked her if she would be okay and she said yes, the marshal was there too. I continued.

There was another refuge not a checkpoint though. I filled up my water as I had moved on to my 3rd bottle on this climb up and I still wasn’t even at the top!

I saw people climbing up some rocks, something different! It was fun clambering over the rocks, this section went on for about 4km. Rocks, chains and some path. It wasn’t too bad and the chains weren’t really needed. It was like a big conga line, some people in front weren’t confident on these sections but I felt alright, I was just wanting to get going to the checkpoint. After about 2km of being stuck, I managed to squeeze by the guy in front and I was off, on my way to the refuge, it was up and down, up and down all the way along. I kept looking at my watch never hitting the right elevation. Finally I could see the checkpoint in the distance with another small climb to it. Reached the checkpoint, I ate some salted peanuts here and watermelon – so good and refreshing! More coke obviously and off I went. I was getting hungry for proper food then I remembered that I had a breakfast bar my pack so I broke some of it off and munched it as I walked out the checkpoint.

A woman came running along, she was from the UK also. She said that we had 8km to cover in just over an hour and that we’d be cutting it fine. So in panic mode I was like right better get a move on then. I ran and ran and ran and ran for what felt like ages down. Then in the distance I saw another hill that we were going to climb. Looking at my phone I had some messaged from friends saying “all downhill from here” I was so annoyed cause it was definitely not all downhill but it was absolutely stunning views along this section from Col de Balme.

So I plodded on and then we hit more downhill, I ran and ran and ran all the way down here, I overtook a whole bunch of people here. My quads were starting to hurt I just kept running. I did not want to get timed out.

I knew the next place was Le Tour. It was busy and at the time I didn’t realise I was in Le Tour, all I saw was a bus that said it on the front. I thought I heard someone say the checkpoint was 1km away so I kept running. I saw a guy lying on the ground with his foil blanket on and people around him. I don’t remember a checkpoint at all just a water station. So I kept running and running thinking that 1km is a long way. Then I spotted a familiar face, it was Quila, Sarah and Ian! I asked them where I was, they said Argentiere. I told them someone had said to me that we would be cutting it fine and they told me I was 45 minutes ahead of the cut off! I thought phew I can relax a bit now.

Headed into the check point for some more coke and spotted more watermelon. I casually went about stuffing as many pieces as I could and I said how good it was and the marshal said “you are lucky this is the last watermelon” so of course I felt really bad for stuffing about 8 pieces in my mouth, left the checkpoint with my belly full of watermelon and my head hanging in shame.

Along the road I saw Ian, Sarah, Paul and Quila. It was nice seeing them all again, we didn’t get to chat much though, they all walked me out along the road to the trail.

Back on the trail there was a few people just sat down looking miserable. It was still roasting hot and it was about 3 or 4pm. Further along I saw another person absolutely throwing his guts up. I kept thinking it’s not worth being sick for, I can’t deal with sick. Luckily someone else in front asked if he was okay and he said yeah – he wasn’t but I suppose he was being polite.

Then I thought, it should be flat all the way back to Chamonix, we started to climb again. Hit a road crossing where a guy scanned our race numbers, ths must have been a cheeky wee cut off area. We went up again, not like before but up was still up and it was tiring now. Through trees which was nice but still just as warm! Up and down, up and down so many times I thought this is it. Lots of tree roots on the ground made it very difficult to run properly and not trip over them when you’re tired. Finally came out of the trees and I could see the river I knew I was close I text Ian and said 5km. I had a small walk then, I made small goal posts. Run to that big tree and walk. Run to that bench and walk. So I kept doing that along the flat. Out from the trees a man running towards me! It was Gavin in his Pylon tshirt, it was such good timing. He was out on his own run, he gave me a big hug and asked me how I was I said “hot and hungry” I was starving. He made me start runing again which was good and he text Ian to say I was on my way.

Running along the side of the river seeing more and more people again cheering. It’s a nice feeling. Gavin ran me the whole way along here which I probably wouldn’t have done, it would have just been a mixture of running and walking. Through the crowded street as it was getting towards dinner time, it was hard to get through.

I saw Ian waiting at the bottom then I had to do the small loop round the back of the river and up to the finish. Yvette and her friend Dai were there cheering which was again so nice to see friendly faces. The finish was a welcomed site, Ian was there waiting with Lachlan. They gave me hugs and a well done. Yvette came for a sweaty hug too!

I said to Ian I was starving so we went to get my medal and a trucker style hat for finishing. Checked out the food at the finish but it was more of the same checkpoint food, yuck!

Headed off to the local bakery and got a nice baguette then headed of to get pizza!

Overall, it was a love hate relationship with this race. I hated the uphill in the sun. I’d probably do the bit from Col de Balme again as it was beautiful. Hard race but enjoyable distance as it was 40km (24 miles). Recommend if you ca’nt get into the race you put in for definitely go for the MCC if the chance is there.

8:54:33 and I’m okay with that given that it was 29 degrees and a month after Lakeland 50.

Lakeland 50

Friday evening at Coniston was nice and relaxed. We met up with our friends Anna and Marcis and had something to eat from the food stall, we sat on the grass and ate. The sun was shining and it was very humid. There was hint of excitement and nerves in the air , we walked up from the start to the bridge that the Lakeland 100 runners would cross to cheer them all on. We saw them through the gate and off they went in a huge conga line.

Ian was shouting at his friend Scott “104 miles to go” luckily Scott took it in good spirit and gave Ian the finger.

Back down the hill, I went to register as quick as I could cause I just wanted to get back to the BnB to relax and get my pyjamas on. I spotted a woman I knew from Instagram (Angela) and she was stood talking someone else I knew from Instagram (Steve) we said some hellos and I went off to register. The queue took forever, I spoke to a nice woman in the queue (Michelle) who took my mind off being nervous. I got checked in and joined the next queue for kit check, I had all my kit in a shopping bag instead of packed away in my pack, they want to see all of your kit – not just randomly selected stuff. The next table was for collecting your race number pack, which had a buff, car sticker, chia charge bar and a mountain fuel gel in. Off to the next station where it was time to get weighed, the dread. Clearly I’d eaten a lot cause there was an extra kg on that scale! The next station was getting my tracker attached to my pack and getting talked through how to use it in an emergency. Lastly I got my picture taken – it was getting real.

Back to the BnB, bag packed, pyjamas on and lights out.

7:30am alarm, up and dressed. We went down for breakfast which was served at 8am. I ordered some scrambled egg on toast.

I didn’t fancy getting the coach to the start as I get travel sickness so Ian was taking me to Dalemain after breakfast. We parked up and went to the portaloos before the buses arrived. Cheered some Lakeland 100 runners in and I went back to the car to change my shoes and stay out of the rain. Ian saw on the tracker that his friend Mike was in Dalemain so he went to see how he was doing.

By now the buses had started to roll in, Ian came back to the car and we decided we should go wait in the toilet queue again as it was getting long.

Time to go into the starting pen, 15 minutes to go.

For the 4 mile loop round the estate you are allowed a family member or friend to run with you, I decided against that cause I thought Ian would just run me too fast. We had ACDC Thunderstruck playing and then a countdown from 10, as soon as we got to GO time the sky opened up and it was just heavy ran for the full 4 miles. I was okay with it. It was really humid so it was actually nice. Coming back through the estate I was looking out for Ian as he said he would see me again there, spotted him hiding under an umbrella and shouted on him.

Ran through here about 40 minutes in and off I went to Pooley Bridge. I was breaking the race into small sections at this point. Pooley Bridge was next on my list, it was still raining. I hadn’t cracked open my poles yet as I thought I’d use them for the big hill (Fusedale) out of Howtown.

I hiked it up the hill out of Pooley Bridge, felt good so I just went with it while I had it. Once I was up the hill I ran the whole way to Howtown, I like that section as you can run it cause its mostly downhill.

Howtown was nice to get to. I filled my bottles up, grabbed a bag of crips and pick ‘n’ mix, such a good idea. Scoffed a bit of flapjack and had 2 cups of coke. On the walk out I ate the crisps as I knew I needed something salty. Chatted to a guy who was also on his first LL50, he was asking about poles and we laughed about how people were moaning on facebook about them.

Heading towards Fusedale, I was not looking forward to this. On the recce weekend I hated it, race day I still hated it. Took me ages to get up, I felt like a snail. I still hadn’t put my waterproof yet and I was debating to put it on for the top but I was actually fine, it was still humid up there and I just aimed to get up and over as quick as I could. I could here loud chatting behind me, one guy came by and said “hes not shut up this whole way” I just laughed cause he must have been so annoyed. Clung onto another runner so that I didnt get lost over the top his name was Andy and he had done the race a few times he said to keep someone in view.

The downhill was alright, then the paths turned into just mud slides. I was whooping and screaming going down the mud trying not to slip and fall over. My shoes became like skates just sliding along in the mud and I was using my poles like I was skiing haha!

Along the rocky path, it was hard to run along here. I was following a woman in front called Sarah, she was running at a nice pace so I just stuck behind her and followed her steps. Eventually came into Mardale Head. I messed about a lot at this check point. I got a cup of tea here and a ham sandwich. Went to the loo then went for a cup of coke, couple of sweets and put my waterproof on cause I had hung about so much I was getting cold. Spotted Steve that I follow on Instagram. Gave him a wave and had a chat about how he was getting on. He had a goal in mind of coming in under 16 hours so he could get into LL100. I still felt okay so I thought I could run with him until he runs off, I said I was getting ready to go up the hill and he said he would come too. I got another tea to walk out with and he got a coffee. Off we went up the hill, forgot it was a steep one but I felt okay going up this one. Finally hit the top and the rain started again! Glad I had put my waterproof on so I didn’t have to stop again. We ran along the top before it comes to a good downhill, I like the downhill here it goes on forever and down to a bridge that you cross and go through a farm area theres a few bumpy hills and over some stiles before hitting Kentmere. We chatted about Instagram politics and some of the ridiculousness that goes on – an eye opener. We chatted about what got us into running and races we’d like to do, the miles passed quickly.

Got to Kentmere, I was so excited as it was the Disney themed checkpoint. There was a guy dressed as Woody and a Mad Hatter. This is where Steve said he also liked Disney and told me he had his honeymoon there, amazed by this I shouted “I got married there”. Bonding!

We went in and they were playing “I can go the distance” from Hercules. I love this song, and it fitted in so well with the timing.

I’ll be there someday, I can go the distance
I will find my way if I can be strong
I know every mile would be worth my while
When I go the distance, I’ll be right where I belong

Stuck in my head for ages!

In here I got some pasta as it was dinner time. I got the pasta and realised I put my Spork or Foon (whatever you’d like to call it) in my pack away, thinking I wouldn’t use it. So I used my fingers hahaha looked around and notice most people probably done the same as me cause they were also using their fingers!! None of us cared. Finished my pasta, got some more coke and sweets. I clocked some watermelon, scoffed a couple of slices of that. Said to Steve I was ready to go, we got tea and coffee for the walk out again. We chatted about Disney loads, all our trips out there, favourite rides and princesses.

Here came the hill out of Kentmere, took ages to get up it. I had to stop a few times for a breather and Steve carried on chatting which took my mind of it. I knew once I was up the hill I would be fine cause I like the downhill from here into Troutbeck and then it would be Ambleside!

Running over the top the rain started again, it was hard work. The down the hill was good even though it’s all like slate stones you run down. It’s so uneven underfoot. Then I noticed a dog and a pair of long legs, it was Sarah my coach! She was on her way up to see me. Sarah and Quila ran down with me and Steve, Quila picking up her stick that Sarah said she had planked on the way up. She asked how I was, I said I felt good and was looking forward to Ambleside to see Ian. She told me to make sure I got some more food at Ambleside and that there was some special guests waiting with Ian at Ambleside. They were drenched and went off home to get dry!

There was people waiting at Troubeck to see the runners which was nice they cheered us on. Up at the top of the hill at Troutbeck, I had to double take – there was 3 people in cow costumes! Amazing! Loved it, they made me smile so much. Apparently last year they were ducks, it was perfect weather for ducks the rain was still coming down. Finally into the woods on the way to Ambleside, I text Ian to say where I was. Coming through the town people were cheering which was so nice, very overwhelming!

Ian said he would be waiting near the chip shop and I spotted him so I started waving. I noticed the Special Guests were Anna and Marcis with an addition of Ted the dog!

They ran with us into the checkpoint, there was Sabina to give me a hug. She smelled amazing, cause I was stinking! Let’s face it 8 hours of being damp, of course I didnt smell like Rose’s.

Steve met his friend Molly, who had come through for the race to cheer him on. She was lovely and gave some motivational chat.

Went upstairs in to the checkpoint I got some soup here but couldnt finish it all, I got another ham sandwich and forced it down. 2 cups of coke and 2 cups of tea and off we went into the darkness.

Head torch ready!

The climb out of Ambleside I’ve done a few times so I knew what was to come. I made sure I knew the whole secton off by heart cause it was going to be in the dark. Trying my best to hold off putting my head torch on. Got to the second gate and it was time to put it on. Nice down hill to the post box and then down again to Skelwith Bridge where Ian and Molly were waiting again to see us and give us some chat. I wasnt really in the mood for chatting. 40 miles of feeling good, I did wonder when I would start to feel shit and here it was. So I just listened to Ian, Molly and Steve talking. Ian was telling Steve what was still to come. Ian and Molly waved us off again. After Skelwith Bridge it’s a long flat section trying my best to run it I was struggling at this point. I was still running but then I had to walk. We walked by the cave and down the hill onto a cobble path, then you come to the Wainwrights Inn pub where there was a head torch holding a gate opened it was Molly again to see Steve, I said I was really struggling and she gave me a hug and told me I was doing great. I was getting emotional now. We carried one to Chapel Stile, I was having a wee cry to myself and Steve laughed, gave me a hug and made me start running again to the check point that we could see lit up in the distance.

Chapel Stile was airline themed, brilliant! I got some cake here and one of the marshals asked me if I wanted custard with it, he said I wasnt very Scottish as I turned down the custard haha, the thought of it was making me hit the boke (wretch).
This place really cheered me up, someone said I was doing amazing and it almost set me off again! Such a nice woman, she bakes the famous brownies. I had a couple they were great! Cup of tea and coffee, off we went again. Over the fields towards the next hill, over some stiles and it was time to climb up the hill, took ages! Once at the top there was some people standing in the rain cheering people on again! Madness!

We went through the woods and on the way to the unmanned dibber, they had put some sticks out with reflective ribbon on which was really handy, bog, bog, bog. Just squeltching our way through it, there was a few of us all following. There was a man standing holding the dibber for us, I said thank you for standing out for us. All I could hear were my shoes, full of water haha. Looked on and in the distance you could see head torches “oh yeah, forgot about that hill” so we got to the next hill knowing Tilberthwaite was just on the other side. Up and over, there was a few of us sticking together cause it was dark.

In the distance you could see the green glow sticks of the steps at Tilberthwaite and head torches snaking their way up the hill. It looked so big!! Went into the checkpoint and paid my pound that I had carried all the way from the start. Loads of food here to have, I had some jelly babies and spotted melon, yum!!

I went to the loo, grabbed a cup of tea and off we went up the steps. I said to Steve to carry on without me as I was knackered I knew he wanted under 16 hours and I was not going to be the one to hold someone back from getting that. Ian and I had planned for 17 hours. I didn’t think of this plan, I just went with how I felt. So I was on my own, but not really on my own as there was so many head torches!

I shuffled my way along here, over the bogs. I thought I was stepping on a stone at one point, whoosh my foot went right in. Least it wasn’t too far from the end. I over took some people here also shuffling along. There was a guy up there with his dog and he said, “if you run down now you’ll be finished in 20 minutes” Music to my ears even though I knew that it wasn’t far. So I shimmied my way down, there was a couple infront of me going a wee bit too slow, slow that it was hurting my knees being behind them. I squeezed by and shuffled my way down then once I was on the tarmac I was getting emotional again knowing that I was so close. There was some marshals at the bottom to guide you across the road. I was running and running round the corner and that was it, I was at the top finish straight. I turned my head torch off so that Ian would be able to see me. I spotted him and shouted again.

Finished. I dibbed in and stopped my watch.

Ian gave me a big hug and I burst into tears. Then a marshal came to take me into the tent. I said how I was tired and he called me a Lakeland Legend and then asked me if I was ready to go in. He rang his cow bell and shouted “Lakeland 50 finisher” and everyone cheered and I burst out crying again haha! Received my medal and then got my finishers photo.

Got my weight band and tracker cut off and Steve and Molly gave me a hug and I thanked them both.

Ian hugged me again and told me I smelled, top gent. We went and got my finishers food, I got some rice. I really didnt fancy the chilli. I just wanted some fizzy juice and to get back to the BnB for a shower and get my pyjamas on.

Could not be happier with my time, 15 hours, 26 minutes and 36 seconds.